Learn how a single women started 600 missions, shelters, and schools in 120 countries without having a single dollar in the hand
Agnes Gonxhu Bojaxhiu
26th August 1910, Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia), Ottoman Empire (now the Republic of Macedonia)
5th September 1997, Calcutta(Kolkata), West Bengal India
Nikolle Bojaxhiu & Dranafile Bojaxhiu
Lazer (brother), Aga (Sister).
August 27th, 1910
Mother Teresa’s mother had always tried to ensure her daughter take care of others
According to the Loreto nuns custom, she took a vow to live a life of chastity, poverty, and obedience
She was baptized in Skopje, where she lived for 18 years, After that, she moved to Ireland followed by India. Teresa left home at the age of 18 in 1928 to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Ireland to learn English with the view of becoming a missionary.
She came to India in 1929 and began her noviciate (novitiate) in Darjeeling, where she learned Bengali and taught at St. Teresa School near her convent. Teresa took her first religious vows on 24th May 1931 and solemn vows on 14th May 1937. She served nearly twenty years from 1931 to 1948 as a teacher at Loreto Convent School in Entally, eastern Calcutta and appointed as its headmistress in 1944.
In 1948 she got permission from her superiors to leave the convent school to help the poorest of the poor people in the slums of Calcutta and she wrote on her dairy that the first year was fraught with difficulty, she begged for the food supplies with no income. She experienced doubt and loneliness during these early months. To provide a home for the poorest among the poor she walked and walked till her arms and legs ached.
On 7 October 1950 she received Vatican permission to start her order, “The Missionaries of Charity”, whose primary task to care and love for those people where nobody was prepared to look after them. The Missionaries of Charity would care for the hungry, the homeless, the naked, the blind, the crippled, the lepers, for all who feel unwanted, uncared, unloved for throughout society, often people who become a burden to the society.
The First Hospice
In 1952, she opened her first hospice care with help from Calcutta officials. She converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the kali ghat (Kalighat Home for Dying), free for the poor, the home of the Pure Heart(Nirmal Hriday). The opportunity to die with dignity following their faith: Hindus received water from the Ganges, Muslims were read the Quran, and Catholics received extreme unction. Mother Teresa often spent time with those who were dying and said: “a beautiful death, it is for people to die like angels who lived there like animals”.
She opened a hospice for those with Hansen’s Disease(also called leprosy), calling it Shanthi Nagar (City of Peace). The Missionaries of Charity established leprosy-outreach clinics throughout Kolkata, providing medications, food, and dressings.
In 1955, Teresa opened the Children’s Home of the Immaculate Heart, as a haven for homeless youth and orphans, called it as Nirmala Shishu Bhavan.
Growth of the Movement
After this, the congregation began to attract donations and recruits. By the 1960s it had opened many orphanages, hospices, and leper houses across India, then it expanded abroad, opening a house in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters.
Houses followed in Tanzania, Austria, and Italy(Rome) in 1968. During the 1970s house and foundations in the United States and dozens of countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
In 1963, The Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded and in 1976, a contemplative branch of the sisters followed it. In 1981, Mother Teresa founded the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests in 1981 on responding to requests by many priests and the Missionaries of Charity Fathers was founded in 1984 with Father Joseph Langford.
By 1997 the 13-member Calcutta congregation had grown to more than 4,000 sisters, who managed orphanages, AIDS charity centers and hospices worldwide, caring for refugees, disabled, the blind, alcoholics, aged, homeless, the poor and victims of floods, many more services she provided through The Missionaries of Charity.
450 brothers and 5,000 sisters worldwide by 2007, operating 600 missions, shelters, and schools in 120 countries.
Awards and Recognition
- Padma Shri(1962)
- Ramon Magsaysay Award (Peace and International Understanding (1962))
- Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding(1969)
- Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971)
- Templeton Prize (1973)
- Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975)
- Pacem in Terris Award (1976)
- La Storta Medal for Human Service (1976)
- Balzan Prize for promoting humanity, peace, and brotherhood (1978)
- Nobel Peace Prize (1979)
- Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian award) (1980)
- The United Kingdom and the United States bestowed several awards (1983)
- Honorary doctor of social science degree (August 1987)
- Teresa's Albanian homeland gave her the Golden Honour of the Nation (1994)
- Honorary citizenship of the United States (16 November 1996)
- She was in the top 10 women in the annual Gallup's most admired man and woman poll 18 times and headed Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century (1999)
- She appointed as an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (1982)
- Mother Teresa's official biography was published by Navin Chawla (1992)
- She progressed rapidly on the road to sainthood and Missionaries of Charity became a symbol of hope to many
Mother Teresa received a state funeral from the Indian government in gratitude for her service to the poor and unwanted people of all religions in the country.